Navigation

Bronchitis cough asthma recovery

wow! I’ve been hit hard with, I think, bronchitis. My new pulmonologist has been helping me via email- called in prednisone 40 mg taper and doxycycline. I haven’t gotten the antibiotics yet. I am on day 4 of this terrible cough, infection, breathing thing. My peak flow is down to 300- usually at 400. I am coughing like a smoker- lots of junk in my lungs. I am very tired and have a low fever. I haven’t been in to see the doctor yet. Any thought on whether I should push to be seen or wait to see if the meds work? I’ve missed 3 days of work so far. Thanks for any input on how long it’ll take to recover from bronchitis with asthma on top. 

50
186

Comments 50

  • Emelina

    I’m in the same boat! I’ve heard 2-4 weeks acutely with up to 6 weeks of increased cough. Have you tried ipratropium nebs in addition to your usual nebs? It has been awesome for drying up the extra goo and rattle. My doc also gave me tussinex (has an opiate + DM). It helps kill that twitchy irritable tickle and knocks me out to break the cough, wheeze, cough, further inflammation cycle. 

    You might wanna get seen early, they can do a respiratory pathogen panel pcr to look for bacteria like mycoplasma or pertussis and ensure you don’t have a mild flu.

    all of my panels have come back negative. Must be some undiscovered miserable asthma sufferer plaque bug. Bleck! Can’t wait for spring. 

  • K8sMom2002

    Shadowcat, hugs! Bronchitis can take a long time … but you don't need to suffer in silence. Definitely speak up!

    Did the doc give you a timeline for when you should start to see improvement? Have you asked the doc whether or not you should be seen? Usually doctors have a timeline in mind when they propose a treatment plan. They usually assume no news = good news, so since it's NOT good news, could you let your doc know?

    My doc gives me specific time frames — "We'll try x, y and z, but if you're not better within so many days, then I need to see you. Call me the afternoon before that last day so we can schedule you to come in and be seen first thing."

    In the meantime, what changes to your has your doctor given you?

  • Shadowcat04

    Well, K8TSMOM, thanks for the reply. This a new doctor – patient relationship. I just got my prednisone upped yesterday and my antibiotic today. So, currently, I have Dulera 2 puffs morning and night, qvar 2 puffs, proair 2 puffs as needed, prednisone 40 mg. , and doxycycline 10 mg twice a day (took first dose a couple hours ago). 

    Cough, fatigue, breathing and mucus are getting me down. Not sure if I should call and make an appointment or wait until tomorrow and see how I am then?

    probably not thinking too straight either. 

  • Emelina

    You could always pick the middle ground and call the office and let them know your progress and see if they suggest having you come in for an in person assessment today/tomorrow or holding tight. Looks like you are on all the right stuff. 

  • Shadowcat04

    Good ideas. I think I’ll call in tomorrow if I’m not feeling better and see if I can be seen.  I’m not going to work tomorrow, which means I will have missed the whole week. I’m a teacher, so this is really tough. I don’t see how I can teach children when I can barely make it into the kitchen without being out of breath or going into a coughing fit.

     

  • K8sMom2002

    I don't see how you could, either, Shadowcat! Rest is important, and you may even be more susceptible to infection from students.

    One thing that helped me decide is when my doctor reminded me to stick to my plan and know my asthma zones.

    What zone are you in?

    Could you call your doctor's office after-hours number? Or if you're in the red and you can't get hold of your doctor, then an ER visit might be the best option. You can always call your doc and let him know. 

  • Shadowcat04

    Trying the nebulizer now. Maybe that’ll help a little more. My temp seems to go up in the evening, so I’ve got a low temp now, too. The coughing is awful and leaves me rasping and wheezing and exhausted. 

  • Shadowcat04

    I think I’m getting worse instead of better. Had to do a neb treatment at 11 pm. Finally fell asleep around midnight. Another neb at 6:30 am. It helps some, I’ve taken the rest of the meds that I can- but breathing does not feel good. Think I’m going to have to go in. I’m so tired, I barely have the strength- my DH offered to drive me, we’ll see. Thought I was going to need ER last night until the neb helped- a little scary. 

  • LK

    Shadowcat,  I would take your DH up on his offer and go now!  When things just aren't getting better it is time to go see your doctor.

  • Pljohns

    Shadowcat-I would be with Lisa and GO.   much better to go during the day than have things go badly during the night!

  • K8sMom2002

    Me-three (or four) … I agree. I think it's time to be seen when you have someone to go with you and speak up and listen on your behalf. When you're weak and exhausted from coughing, it's always nice to have a person there to help you hear what the doctor is saying and help explain to the doctor why this is out of the ordinary.

    Feel better! May the doc have a plan forward!

  • Shadowcat04

    Good points. 25 minutes until the doctor’s office opens. We’ll see if they can get me in and if not what they suggest that I should do. 

    This is about as bad as the breathing has been since the asthma started in July. My peak flow was 300 last night. I don’t know this am. 

  • Melissa G

    Shadowcat, I battled bronchitis back in Jan/Feb, it was awful! I was also given doxy and it did nothing for me. I ended up on a second round of antibiotics. 

    I hope you are able to get into the dr's to be seen today and you start feeling better quickly! 

  • Shadowcat04

    I am at the ER. Couldn’t get into the doctor’s office. Plus, when they heard me they sai I should just go straight to ER. Of course the ER is backed up, we’ve been here an hour already. My pulse ox was 98, as usual, but my raspy breathing is the same. They did take me for an X-ray. Maybe I’ll get in soon. Stronger meds?

  • carolicase

    I would take everyone's advice here and go to the doctor ASAP! Its so scary when you feel like you can hardly breathe take care of yourself. You don't want it to get any worse.

  • Dar007

    I feel you. Been three weeks I am fighting off this…I don’t know what it is. They think it is pneumonia. My deep rattling cough has gone, but still feel like something is sitting on my chest. Still coughing but it sounds better. I am SO tired. I totally get where you are coming from. I am on day 6 of 22 shifts in a row….sucks so bad. 

  • K8sMom2002

    Shadowcat, hoping to hear good news from you soon! I sure hope you got seen pretty quickly after your last comment.

    Dar, to you as well … I hate that you are having to work when you are sick and you need rest. Did you ever get closer parking worked out with HR?

  • Shadowcat04

    I was in the ER for abou 5 hours – 3 1/2 being treated. They gave me a magnesium sulfate infusion (never had that before), two duonebs, Tylenol, tessalon perles and a step up in prednisone. No pneumonia. The doc said my lungs sounded better after treatments. However, my breathing felt a little better- but still not great. I could have pushed it and stayed longer, but I took the RXs and we headed home. 

    I just did another home neb treatment and ended up coughing and hacking and out of breath (scary) right afterward. I do not feel better and I am so tired . My DH has been so good and the ER docs and nurses were great, too.

     

  • Shadowcat04

    Is it a problem that even with codeine cough syrup, maintenance meds, prednisone 60 mg x 2/ day, antibiotics and I am still needing the albuterol neb with less than 4 hours in between. If I start talking or walking, I nearly double over in coughing and then the breathing gets bad and I feel like I need an ambulance. And the substitute pulmonologist who called this morning said this is how it’ll be for a day or two. I’m not sure he knew I can’t even make it to the 4 hours for neb. The neb lasts pretty well for about 2 hours- if I stay still, don’t move or talk. 

    Should I be more concerned or just keep doing the same ?  I’m a little scared. 

  • Shadowcat04

    PS I have spoken to my pulmonologist and PCP office today and I know I can call people back, and I called my sister to come help. 

  • Emelina

    What type of neb are you doing? Duoneb or albuterol or xopenex? Sometimes switching from albuterol alone to duoneb can really help and it can dry up the mucus as well. the codeine with cough syrup might not be strong enough. I cough right through it like it is water, phenergan DM or tussinex are the only rx cough syrup that will even touch my bronchitis/asthma flares.

    are you drinking plenty of fluids and taking it easy? 

    Do you have a pulse ox checker at home and what are your peak flows doing? Any new fevers higher than 101? And can you eat/drink enough to take your pills? If your pulse ox starts dropping, or your heart rate goes crazy or new high fever or are having trouble with oral intake, i’d Have a low threshold to get checked out again (urgent care, ed, nightime on call doctor) . Call me cautious or a hypochondriac, but I’d rather be safe than sorry. And you know your body, if it’s scaring you, you deserve to be reassessed. Hope you feel better soon.

  • Shadowcat04

    The nebs are just albuterol. I am drinking lots of fluids and can do nothing but rest. I’ve never been so incapacitated.  I don’t have a pulse ox at home- it is usually 97 or higher when it’s checked. My peak flow has been going down. Regular is 400. It was down to 300 and now it is down to 270 or so. No high fever. I can eat okay as long as I’m not coughing or in a breathing attack. I wish it wasn’t the weekend. 

  • Emelina

    Yikes! That peak flow trend is super scary especially on super high dose prednisone. Maybe call your doc in the morning and go get checked out at an urgent care or if nothing else the ED but have your doc call ahead? I hate weekends too. Is your clinic open on the weekends? Do your peak flows improve at all with the nebs; if not, maybe even give the after hours number a call today. When I’m in a really tight spot I love the duoneb combo or even atrovent alone. I’ve seen some docs do duoneb q6h with albuterol in between as needed every 2hrs. It acts as both another bronchodilator for the big airways and helps reduce the sticky mucus overproduction.

    one thing that my doc suggested was hot steamy showers. Sometimes the warm humid air can help relax the airways. Also sometimes plain nebulized saline can help reduce irritation and break the cough/wheeze/cough cycle.

    does your action plan have any other meds that can be tried? Sounds like you are doing everything right! I hope you feel better very soon!

  • Melissa G

    Shadowcat, how are you this morning? The codeine cough syrup did nothing for me. The doctor finally gave me a script for the tessalon perles, and those helped me a lot. 

    I would definitely call and check in with your dr. 

  • LK

    Shadowcat,  If your peak flow numbers are going down despite doing everything your doctor ordered, the prudent action would be to immediately go to the ED.   Hope you are doing better by now!!  

  • Shadowcat04

    Pulmonologist on call doctor directed me to the ER. She called ahead for me. I was in the ER for a couple hours. Iv, duoneb, really struggling to breathe. Coughing and wheezing a lot.  Lowest my sats got was 95. They had me walk and watched heart and O2. Coughing started immediately, very hard to walk and breathe, my heart rate went up. Nurse promptly got doctor and I was admitted. I have a nicer bed and a tv. The doc said my lungs sound tight and he hears a lot of wheeZing. Though I don’t have the flu, he thinks virus that the asthma is reacting to and because I’m young (48??) they want to treat and observe. So iv prednisone, scheduled breathing treatments, cough syrup, pseudophed, O2 nose cannula.  

  • Melissa G

    So sorry you had to be admitted but glad you are there and getting help! Sending you lots of hugs! 

  • Emelina

    Whew, I’m glad you’re getting the care that you need! Wishing you a speedy recovery.

  • LK

    Will keep you in my prayers Shadowcat!!  As Melissa and Emelina said, sorry you had to be admitted but glad you are getting the extra care you need to get back to breathing better again!!      

  • Shadowcat04

    Not an easy night. Couldn’t make it past 3 hours before having to ask for another breathing treatment. Almost no sleep- my sides were hurting so bad from all the coughing and gasping. Several respiratory therapists said things from tight, decreased, wheezes to crackles. They said improvement after treatments. They just aren’t lasting very long. Cough meds only help a little- robitussin and tessalon perles. Iv prednisone every 8 hours, I think. Doctor this morning said he’s keeping me another 24 hours, at least and moving me to a regular room- officially admitted, I guess. He finally gave me some pain meds for my sides, too. No real improvement and they still say just give it time. How long?? I’m so exhausted, hopefully I can sleep more today. 

  • LK

    Oh, Shadowcat!!  What a rough time!    Hope you were able to get some rest today and breathe easier!!  Hopefully the improvements after your treatments are lasing longer and longer.  It is frustrating when the doctors say to give it time.  Keeping you in my prayers!!  

  • Shadowcat04

    I am on night 3 in the hospital now. I think the meds are slowly kicking in. Still needing breathing treatments every 3-4 hours. Taking robitussin and tessalon perles. High dose iv prednisone. Off and on pain med for my aching sides from all the coughing. So everything is in  about 3 hour cycles- the sleep is tough. Doc said today two more days. But since I can barely walk across the room still, I’m actually okay with it. 

  • LK

    Shadowcat,  Sending more gentle   your way and keeping you in our prayers!! 

  • Shadowcat04

    4th night in hospital. Last dose of iv steroids. Still need every four hour nebs and cough syrups. I am exhausted from a single trip to the bathroom. Whenever I sit up, the coughing and wheezing starts again. But, it is a little better. They say I switch to oral prednisone tomorrow and if that works out- I will be rechecked in the afternoon and possibly discharged. I’m wondering- how long will it take me to recover?  I haven’t been able to go past 4 hours without nebulizer and I haven’t been able to do more than make it to the bathroom and be up for maybe 5-10 minutes. Will recovery start to drastically improve or is this going to take days and days? I have a job, I’m a teacher. I have kids and a husband. Help! Advice? Experiences?

  • Emelina

    This is just my limited experience, but with bronchitis and asthma, it’s going to take quite a bit of time to recover. People without asthma can expect 2 – 4 weeks of acute nasty phlegm productive cough, low grade fevers and severe fatigue from bronchitis + up to 6-8 weeks of post viral cough (dry). Since you have asthma underneath this, it’s going to be a slow recovery. I got out of the hospital 2 weeks ago and was basically stuck in bed for a week just trying to keep up with my nebs and steroids and cough medicines. I didn’t drive the kids to school or make meals … I just focused on breathing, meds, forcing myself to eat/drink and stay hydrated and going to follow up appointments. I even needed a return ED trip for more fluids after discharge because I was so weak. The second week things started to turn and the energy came back but slowly, just a short shopping trip or preparing a meal was exhausting. I returned to work yesterday, but am still exhausted and have to really pace myself and take things slower. 

    Perhaps others have stories of faster recoveries? My novice advice would be to try to get family to stay with you once you discharge – like someone to watch the kids, prepare meals and help with running the household. You will go home, but that doesn’t mean you’re ready to go back to life as normal. Just focus on breathing, keeping up your meds and resting and eating/drinking once you get home. Bronchitis and asthma is the worst! 

    It is amazing how hard bronchitis hits us. Feel better soon!

    one question to ask … what cough medicine will they send you out on? In my work experience, robitussin and tessalon perles is pretty weak. I know there’s the push to avoid opiates, but the cough medicines with codeine or hydrocodone can work wonders to work centrally to kill the cough and break the cough/wheeze/irritation cycle. You could ask about cherratusin or promethazine dm, but I’d ask your doc if you can try tussinex. It worked like a dream for me and is sedating so it can get you some much needed z’s. If your sides are hurting, ask if a lidocaine patch would help. 

  • LK

    Shadowcat,  I second what Emelina says about just working on breathing, staying hydrated, resting and taking your meds when you get home.  I have not been hospitalized with my asthma but a bad flare still takes me weeks and several times months to recover from – and that is without bronchitis.

    For me, there were weeks on end when all I could do was breathe, drink fluids, take meds and rest.  Please do not push yourself to do things.  The hardest part for me is to let others do for me.  I always think I should be able to do such-and-such when in fact I should ask for help and be willing to not have everything done just my way.  

    Your whole body has been working overtime to just breathe and it has used up your energy reserves so you have to be willing to take the time for those reserves to be replenished.  That takes a boatload of patience.  Something that is hard to come by for most of us!

    A suggestion or two – Have someone make a detailed chart of your medicines – what to take, when to take it, etc.  A chart where you can easily check off meds as you take them.  Also maybe a chart or log of your peak flow or whatever measurements you are using to help see how you are doing.  That way you will be able to see the small improvements.  It is easy to get discouraged when you are on a long road to recovery but seeing the little improvements goes a long way to improving your spirits.

    Keeping you in my prayers!!  

  • Emelina

    I totally agree with what lisa said. Perhaps the hardest thing is to just allow yourself to rest and accept help from others. I was stubborn and pigheaded after I left the hospital and was determined to drive the kids to school and pick up my own medicines. I got halfway to my destination, broke down into a huge coughing fit to the point of almost throwing up in the car. Needless to say I turned around, crawled into bed and finally listened to my husband who said just rest! I love lisa’s Idea of having a detailed chart of your meds and times and log of your progress. at home it’s so easy to get behind on your nebs when RT isn’t there like clockwork. 

  • Shadowcat04

    Well, the oral steroids did not work out. I started to get worse, so I went back on the iv steroids and am still in the hospital. This will be my 6th night. The doctor said today that it’ll be at least two more dates. He said we need to see more improvement before we step down from the iv steroids. He also ordered a second round of magnesium infusion and one other thing I can’t remember and trying to slowly back off albuterol nebs- so far only moderately successful. I also had a blood sugar check and a shot in my stomach to prevent blood clots. I feel like a mess. And, still when I set up or get up I start coughing get SOB and am exhausted after 5-10 minutes. So, I agree that I’m not ready to be done.  They are taking good care of me- but I’m tired of not feeling well. Right now my heart rate is high, I feel warm, I’m jittery and exhausted all at the same time. I’ve missed two weeks of teaching and will miss next week, then I have spring break. This is tough! My spirits took a dip today and I started crying- steroids and overwhelmed I assume. Poor nurses. 

  • LK

    Shadowcat,  Oh, my you are going through a lot right now!!       That is good that your doctor is keeping tabs on you and not letting you go to soon.  Keeping you in my prayers.  All those side effects are tiresome and bothersome, I know.  I am sorry you have to put up with them but try to take a moment and remember they are helping you breathe and at some point you will not need them as much as you do right now.  One day at a time.  Try not to worry about too many things in the future, just take care of yourself.  That is the most important thing right now.    You will make it!!  

  • Shadowcat04

    Well, this is taking forever. Who knew? Clearly not me! After 8 months of doctors trying to accurately diagnose me- I think I really know what asthma can mean. Might be philosophical after 7 days in the hospital. I am better than when I came in, but woke up at exactly every 3- 3 1/2 hours last night coughing and SOB. Every time I sit up or get up – it goes into a breathing fit. The original virus seems to be better the doc said- but the he can still hear the inflammation in the lungs and that is what I keep reacting to, if I understand correctly. But, a week?! And I’m not done yet.